September 11, 2014

Live from the Living Room, September 10

Once the tour bus stopped circling the block there was a good audience for the night’s feature poet, Matt Galletta, launching his new book The Ship is Sinking (Epic Rites Press) (hmm, a bit of oxymoron there?).  Matt’s poems are short-lined, wry, sarcastic commentary on suburban life, in fact on life in general; he makes his point quickly then moves on. “Inflated” was about that know-it-all neighbor in Delmar, while “Architectural Salvage” was about urban decay in Troy. A couple pieces were childhood memories, the nostalgia of making music (“In the Garage”), or a bitter commentary on his parents’ marriage (“My Father’s Severed Head”). His one “cat poem” was not about the cat at all, but about the “Litter Box” & I particularly liked the mix of memory & politics in “Election Night,” a fine poem, as was the one on hearing his daughter’s first laugh, “These Are the Miracles.” He even included a couple poems on poetry readings, “The Comedienne” & “Stockholm Syndrome.” Track Matt down at readings & buy his book.

After our host, Don Levy, took our money, we began the open mic. I read a couple poems from a former Metroland “Best Poet” who has rarely (if ever) shown up at readings, Gary Murrow, his “Theology Class” (dedicated to another local poet, R.M. Engelhardt) & “Masters of Fine Arts.” Bob Sharkey followed with a cento composed of lines by local & other famous poets, on the theme of race, titled “I Don’t Know What Race Card She is Talking About.” Adam Tedesco read 2 poems, the sad, anaphoric “A Real Life Durango” & another sad piece for a drowning victim in Troy, “Not Knowing the Hudson.”

It’s always fun when Tim Verhaegen shows up & tonight he started off with a funny, self-deprecating piece, “PMSing at a Critique Group,” then on to the more tender “Holding Out,” the title of a song by Melanie, that he sang a bit of at the end. Shannon Shoemaker said she has been writing “tiny little untitled short pieces” that she read 1 of, then a poem to a nephew stationed in Afghanistan, “To Drew.” Our genial host, Don Levy, finished out the night with a couple of newer pieces, the teenage memoir “Growing Up Watergate” & a poem pondering the changes in his urban neighborhood “Peek-a-Boo Moon.”

“Live from the Living Room” takes place downstairs in the basement garden room of the Pride Center of the Capital District, 322 Hudson Ave., Albany, NY on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, with a featured poet at 7:30 PM, followed by an open mic, for a modest donation. & it’s always straight friendly.

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